You’ve read about the recent incident how the EgyptAir flight MS181, that was flying from Alexandria to Cairo, was hijacked by a man who claimed to be wearing a suicide explosives belt. After a five-hour standoff in Cyprus, the hijacker, who was found to be wearing a fake suicide vest, was arrested.
You read about the tragedy. Not read the hilarity that reportedly took place on the flight during the hijack.
A BBC correspondent talked to a passenger – Abd-Allah El Ashmawy, a 31-year-old surgeon who witnessed the hijack – on how people responded to the crisis. And Ashmawy’s account is nothing like you would expect.
- One passenger went to check the hijacker’s explosives belt
Ashmawy said within 30 minutes of take-off, everyone in the flight knew that there was a man standing at the back wearing a belt containing explosives which could explode any moment. During such a stressful moment, one passenger said he “wanted to check” the hijacker’s suicide belt.
- One passenger called up his wife to tell her about a secret
Ashmawy said while one passenger started calling lots of people telling them “I’m hijacked, I’m hijacked”, another passenger called his wife to tell her about a secret bank account she didn’t know about.
- One passenger got angry because he just didn’t want to go to Cyprus
During the hijack, the flight was diverted and forced to land in Cyprus. But when one passenger learnt about this, he got very upset. Not because of the change in itinerary but because he had to catch a connecting flight in Cairo and didn’t want to miss it. He had slept through the entire hijacking.
- When handed back the passport, one man got so happy he had a panic attack
When the flight landed in Cyprus, it was announced that women and children would be allowed to leave first. But later it was decided that all the men could also disembark. But one old man began crying and reportedly started to have “a panic attack” when he got his passport back because he just couldn’t believe it.
- One man got an angry call from wife
- And this was all one man wanted from the entire experience as a keepsake
A passenger who had survived the hijacking wanted to take back just one item as a keepsake from a potentially life-threatening event. A frozen chicken.
This is how Ashmawy described the event:
“He was angry when the security guard checked our bags and told him: ‘No you cannot take a chicken on board’. Then the guy said in Arabic: ‘So you allowed a man with a explosive belt on the plane and don’t want me take my chicken on board?'”
“To end the discussion the chicken was put in the fridge on the plane and he took it when he was leaving. The whole rest of the flight he was talking about his chicken.”